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Robert Downey Jr.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)


DIRECTOR: Jon Watts

CAST: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori

REVIEW:

When it comes to probably their most popular and best-known superhero, after the disappointment of 2007’s Spider-Man 3 and the 2012-2014 reboot misfire, Sony and Marvel are hoping the third time’s the charm.  The title refers both to the high school homecoming dance that takes place in the movie, and is also a bit of a sly in-joke referring to Marvel Studios finally gaining access to Spider-Man’s film rights via a deal with Sony, allowing Spider-Man to finally join the Marvel Cinematic Universe and interact with other superheroes.  Even while Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and others were enjoying the cinematic limelight, both individually and together, Marvel’s most iconic superhero was missing.  Getting Spider-Man back into the fold was a major ace in the hole, and now, after his debut with his glorified (and awkwardly shoehorned) cameo in last year’s Captain America: Civil Warthe latest onscreen incarnation of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is swinging into theaters in his own solo outing and the first of what Marvel hopes to be a successful new franchise with more longevity than Sony’s last attempt at a reboot.  Homecoming is already opening strong and receiving glowing critical reception, but while it’s entertaining and enjoyable, like too many of the MCU’s solo outings that feel like side pit stops apart from the larger Avengers continuing narrative (also including 2015’s Ant-Man and 2016’s Doctor Strange), there’s something a bit underwhelming about the whole affair.  Homecoming is easily better than Spider-Man 3, but feels lightweight and low stakes and lacks either the large-scale action or emotional depth of Spider-Man 2. Continue reading

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

fc5edbe9817d3ea749b1a6b885b73bccDIRECTOR: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

CAST: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd,
Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Frank Grillo

REVIEW:

Not only is Captain America: Civil War, taking its name and basic premise from a well-known storyline in the comics (albeit with various plot particulars changed from page to screen), a direct follow-up to events in both The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (familiarity with both is necessary to fully understanding everything that’s going on here), it’s also the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” answer to DC /Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice two months earlier, an “event” pitting two iconic superheroes against each other (at least for part of the screentime).  To that end, it’s easily better-crafted than the lugubrious BvS and more enjoyable than the bloated Age of Ultron but not as good as The Winter Soldier, which had a much more focused plot and tighter pace.  Fan service and an excess of characters and subplots weighs down the proceedings, but it still provides plenty bound to thrill fans of the comics while not glossing over the events that have led up to this point. Continue reading

The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (2015)

avengers-age-of-ultron-trailer-2DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon

CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Thomas Kretschmann, James Spader (voice)

REVIEW:

As a second “all hands on deck” assembling of the historic all-star team-up of 2012’s The Avengers, Age of Ultron underwhelms.  While Captain America: The Winter Soldier managed to be a worthy adventure in its own right, other chapters like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World felt like obligatory filler, something to pass the time in between Avengers films that you could skip without missing much, but unfortunately Age of Ultron lacks the freshness and giddy sense of glee that made the first Avengers such an infectiously enjoyable spectacle.  Seeing Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, and company all united onscreen isn’t as novel an experience as it was three years ago, and their adventure here feels more obligatory than epic. Continue reading

Iron Man 3 (2013)

DIRECTOR: Shane Black

CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale, Ty Simpkins, William Sadler, Miguel Ferrer, Paul Bettany (voice)

REVIEW:

When it comes to superhero trilogies, Iron Man 3 isn’t bad enough to be an example of the “third movie curse”, but nor does it save the best for last. Like Iron Man 2, it’s adequately diverting summer escapist entertainment, but like Iron Man 2, it’s mildly underwhelming. Continue reading

The Avengers (2012)

DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon

CAST:

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgard

REVIEW:

I don’t think there’s ever been a movie with as much set-up as The Avengers, for which Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America all, to greater or lesser extents, served as prologue.  It was a risky gamble (any of the four movies leading up to The Avengers flopping badly enough could have derailed the whole endeavor), but it has not only paid off, it has done so with flying colors.  The Avengers is a virtual comic book movie fan’s wet dream from start to finish, and crafts an epic spectacle on a level that might surpass that of any existing comic book film.  As entertaining as Iron Man and Thor are, The Avengers easily climbs to another level.  The Dark Knight may deal with darker, deeper themes, but the two movies’ tones are different enough that it seems unfair to compare them, and both represent the genre at its crowning pinnacle.  The Avengers is delirious levels of fun from beginning to end, and provides any Marvel comic fan with two hours in cinematic candyland. Continue reading

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

DIRECTOR: Guy Ritchie

CAST:

Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Rachel McAdams

REVIEW:

Following on the heels of 2009’s cinematic reboot of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie reteamed with stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law for A Game of Shadows, which is a very close relation to its predecessor.  Those who enjoyed the first installment should be entertained by the second, while those who were unimpressed are unlikely to have their opinion changed here, except perhaps by the choice of villain. Continue reading

Iron Man 2 (2010)

DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau

CAST:

Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany (voice)

REVIEW:

Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 doesn’t surpass the first installment, and might fall short in a couple areas, but the sequel largely provides plenty more of the same to make it worthwhile summer entertainment. Continue reading

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

DIRECTOR: Guy Ritchie

CAST:

Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong

REVIEW:

Devout followers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective novels may be appalled at what director Guy Ritchie has done with Doyle’s creation, but those with open minds may find a surprising amount of Holmesian details emerge intact, and for all others, Sherlock Holmes is a rollicking ride with plenty of action and comedy and some style and wit along the way. Continue reading

Iron Man (2008)

DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau

CAST:

Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany (voice)

REVIEW:

Along with Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man is a member of the next generation of comic book movies that make their stories seem almost (not quite, but almost) plausible by playing it straight. Positive audience response is clear; Iron Man was the second highest-grossing film of 2008 before being overshadowed by the arguable crowned king of ‘comic book movies’, The Dark Knight , within a couple months. Continue reading

Zodiac (2007)

zodiacDIRECTOR: David Fincher

CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Philip Baker Hall, John Carroll Lynch

REVIEW:

While it tells the true unsolved story of one of America’s most notorious serial killers–at least that which is publicly known–Zodiac is not a thriller, at least not in a conventional sense.  Rather, it’s a police procedural and docudrama.  Based on a true crime book by Robert Graysmith, it puts the focus not on Zodiac himself, who remains a shadowy, elusive, nameless and faceless figure (although the movie’s viewpoint is blatantly slanted toward one suspect), but on the men (including Graysmith himself) who were involved in the long-running, ultimately fruitless manhunt.  To this end, Zodiac is a bit like a souped-up, two-and-a-half hour episode of Law & Order, and will appeal to some of the same audience fascinated by the details of police procedure and investigating.   Continue reading

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